Original SDMB thread - Frontal Lobotomy


a) They still do it. The euphemism is "psychosurgery", or more precise terms like "leukotomy" or "transorbital electroincision"

b) I would not be quick to point to electroconvulsive therapy (i.e., electroshock) as a particulary benign alternative. ECT owes its effectiveness to its ability to do brain damage, a temporary side effect of which is euphoria, and a permanent direct effect of which is permanent memory loss. In depressed persons, short-term euphoria coupled with memory loss makes them...well, you figure it out. For further info, check out Peter Breggin's book on the subject.

c) As with most psychiatric treatments (including pharmaceuticals), the focus has not been on generating a result that pleases the patient but rather on generating a result that causes the patient to cease to be an irritant to others. Lobotomized, shocked, and/or drugged people are more tractable.

d) They did a very large number of lobotomies in the fifties using what was essentially a sterile ice pick: slide it between eyeball and inner canthus, through the thin bone behind, and into the prefrontal lobe, wiggle back and forth, and remove. One doctor was photographed doing two simultaneously, one with each hand.

e) Many of the "vegetables" could still walk and talk and dress themselves, could hold conversations, even jobs (albeit menial ones). The procedure just drops your IQ 30-60 points and reduces the extent to which any ideas have emotional content for you. If it had made everyone into a comatose vegetable it would not have been anywhere near as popular.


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